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Iconic Spanish cafe under threat

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 01:43

March 19 - Staff at Spain's historic Cafe Gijon in Madrid face uncertainty as Madrid City Hall has put the establishment's money-making terrace up for bids. Sarah Mills reports.

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Ninety-five year old artist and writer Antonio Granados Valdez has been coming to Madrid's famous Cafe Gijon since he was student. He visits everyday, and sits at the same table. But he might soon be forced to end his routine. The lease of the restaurant's popular terrace has expired and Madrid City Hall has put it on offer to the highest bidder. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ANTONIO GRANADOS VALDEZ, 95, ARTIST AND WRITER, SAYING: "For someone who has nothing to do with culture or art to come along just thinking about profits and what they could make from the terrace is an outrageous act." Cafe Gijon has been home to Spain's intellectuals and artists for 124 years, but staff fear without the terrace the cafe could close. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) JOSÉ BÁRCENA, CAFE GIJON WAITER IN CHARGE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS, SAYING: "It would be such a shame, it would be like losing the Prado Museum or any place that makes up the fabric of Madrid - my beautiful Madrid." With unemployment in Spain at 22 percent - the highest rate in the euro zone - the cafe's waiters are worried. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) LUIS MIGUEL MARTIN, 46, CAFE GIJON WAITER, SAYING: "I've been unemployed before and now that I have work and I am happy, we have this problem, and we don't know if it will be resolved and I might end up out of work again." Cafe Gijon has put in a bid for the terrace and awaits a decision from Madrid City Hall. For more than century it's customers have debated politics and art here - now the cafe's fate is the subject of many of their conversations. Sarah Mills, Reuters

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Iconic Spanish cafe under threat

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 01:43